McKinney York Architects


Robbs Run House

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“It created a project that was simple and compact, but actually had a lot of perceptual depth and experience.
-Gordon Wittenberg, AIA

The need to save 15 specimen oaks determined the iconic form of this house. A potentially bulky form is instead a pair of tall, slim Monopoly houses with a glass slot that joins and splits the house top to bottom, flooding light throughout. McKinney York chose straightforward materials such as metal roofs for rainwater collection, cementitious siding and recycled stone for the retaining walls and porch fireplace. It is the detailing that brings elegance to those materials – the taut eaves and clever “inverse board and batten” use of the siding which accentuate the slimness of the building are two such examples. The siding is joined at the corners by an inverted metal corner, enhancing the simplicity of the composition. Each house form has its own grayish blue chameleon color which at times look the same, but on occasion appear to be strikingly different – a feature that keeps the neighbors intrigued.

Recognition: Merit Award, AIA Austin, 2006; Five Star Rating, Austin Energy Green Building, 2006;

Tour: AIA Austin Homes Tour, 2005;

Publication: Austin American-Statesman, May 2007; Austin Home Magazine, Summer 2014; Austin Monthly Home, Spring 2007; Austin Monthly Home, Fall 2009; Innovative Home, Jan 2008; Metalmag, Nov/Dec 2006; Residential Architect, Mar 2006; Texas Coop Power, June 2006; Western Interiors, June/July 2007; Western Interiors, Aug/Sep 2008; Wired, Jan 2007; New Sustainable Homes: Designs for Healthy Living, Harper Design, 2006; Austin Now, KLRU, 2006; AT&T U-verse (Commercial), Fall 2013

Sustainability: five-star rating from City of Austin Green Building Program (the highest rating, only given to .5% of submitted projects, as of 2005); 1,200 gallon rainwater collection cistern for garden irrigation; house sited to protect specimen trees; salvaged stone from former house on lot reused to create fireplace and retaining walls; high performance spray foam insulation for exterior envelope including sealed attic space; high efficiency water-cooled air conditioning system utilizing an evaporative condenser, a variation of a “cooling tower”; 3 kilowatt photovoltaic system; low-water consumption, native plants; VOC-free compressed wheat board used for 75% of interior cabinet materials; recycled glass terrazzo countertop in guest bathroom; and optimization of daylighting and cross-ventilation